Having spent the past week playing Red Dead Redemption 2 nearly nonstop, I figured I would put in yet even more input on the game, as seems like the more time I put into the game, the more interesting things I find. The amount of depth in Red Dead Redemption 2 is just insane. It seems like when you feel like you’ve seen it all, something else surprising happens that proceeds to amaze. I feel that over the course of the time I spent playing thus far, I can count at least several occasions worth of random encounters in the open world that felt like they all had an incredible amount of depth to them. Some encounters that would happen seemed a little simplistic, like random bounty hunter attacks, but there was some that surprisingly felt memorable.
One encounter in particular I can recall involving a man falling off of his horse and asking for help. Going through a playthrough of having an Arthur who is good as he could possibly be, I sprang into action taking the guy to Saint Denis on the back of my horse. Usually in a game taking someone to a place might be enough, especially with a random open world event, but not in Red Dead Redemption 2. After taking the man to the doctors in Saint Denis, and dropping him into a chair, the man was then told he had to have his arm amputated. Sticking around, I figured I would have been locked out of the room or something, but no… not here. By hanging around to see what would happen, I was able to witness this man have his arm amputated, which was then thrown into a trash bin afterwards. I honestly couldn’t really believe that Rockstar went to that length to create such an interesting random encounter with no relevance to basically anything in the main plot, or side missions. This all existed for the sake of the world feeling more alive and immersive, something I feel I can appreciate a lot and something that makes me feel amazed to think about how far these video games have evolved since I was young.
Going back into my childhood, I can recall my first introduction to playing something created by Rockstar. That game was Grand Theft Auto 2. A top-down video game that I can still remember spending countless hours doing pointless things in, such as hijacking tanks just to tirelessly run over cars, or pointlessly creating walls of cars just to blow up with a rocket launcher. The game was difficult for me to understand at such a young age, but still enjoyable, and even though I did eventually play Grand Theft Auto 1 and London: 1969 afterwards, I still found GTA2 to be the most memorable of the original PlayStation One releases just because of the dumb things I would find myself doing in it for no reason at all.
Then we come to the PlayStation 2 releases.
I can still remember my first time playing Grand Theft Auto 3, being blown away by just the broad scope of the game alone. It was the first open world game I had ever played, with the game itself having been a drastic change from the top-down view perspective of the previous GTA iterations. Looking back on it now, Grand Theft Auto 3 is definitely a dated video game, but back when it was new, it was just another one of those games I found myself having fun with doing pointless things like purchasing every piece of property and stockpiling the best looking cars, to just pointlessly driving around listening to music while hoping to stumble across hidden packages located around the world. It was a game that I honestly thought would have never of been topped, until Grand Theft Auto: Vice City happened.
Vice City, pretty much took Grand Theft Auto 3 and threw it into a settling with references and music I absolutely adored. It was a point of my life where I had come to love a lot of 1980s films and heavy metal music, having gone through a bit of a rebellious phase at that point of my life. The game itself kept elements of GTA3 that I still hadn’t grown tired of, such as being able to purchase property and stockpile cars, but it also provided extra elements to things. I mean honestly, whenever I think back on GTA: Vice City, the main thing that comes to mind is always the ice cream truck missions. I can’t even describe the amount of time I spent doing these missions, when not pointlessly driving around listening to Slayer or Iron Maiden, while being Vice City’s number one real estate mogul. I felt as though Vice City was a high point for many years and a bar that I thought was so high, I felt as though it could never be topped. That was of course until Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
To this day, GTA: San Andreas is still without any doubt my absolute favorite Grand Theft Auto game. Taking basically every element I loved about GTA3 and Vice City, and throwing in light RPG elements, it was almost like it was a nearly perfect game. I loved stupid little immersive things like being able to go into different fast food restaurants and buy different food items for CJ to eat, along with extra little things like having to worry about him gaining too much weight, or the complete opposite in being able to work out excessively to turn him into a hulking beast resembling Brock Lesnar. These games had absolutely phenomenal gameplay and depth to them to the point where I honestly didn’t think I would’ve ever see them topped. Yet every single time, these games kept getting better and better with each release, and every time I found myself saying, “This is the best game ever.” It’s a cycle that just keeps repeating. Even the Rockstar games to come out last generation didn’t lack brilliancy, with Red Dead Redemption and both Grand Theft Auto 4 and 5 being fantastic games just adding to Rockstar Games amazing library.
This all brings me to where I’m at now. I feel like Red Dead Redemption 2 might be the best designed video game I’ve ever played. Sure, the games story does feel like it can start a bit slow and the length of distanced travelled from place to place can feel a bit much at times, but the broad scope of the game is incredible and the detailing is something truly special. Like I said previously however, I don’t really think this is my favorite Rockstar game, that honor still lies with Bully, but I would say if I made a top 3 list – Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely in it. This is a game that I feel I could have easily put a thousand hours into as a kid doing mundane things without tiring myself out, and one I feel like I will fondly look back on some day. Rockstar raised the bar once again with Red Dead Redemption 2, but it does make me wonder if they can raise the bar anymore. Right now, I keep feeling like this is such a well-crafted game that I sincerely doubt it’ll ever be topped… but then again, I said that about Grand Theft Auto multiple times through the years. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for more of Rockstar’s games. As of this moment though, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolute masterpiece.